President Biden will meet in person with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to coordinate rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Ian, the White House announced Tuesday.
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre confirmed the meeting during a news conference Tuesday, saying DeSantis will provide an update on recovery efforts along with FEMA Director Deanne Criswell. It will be the first time Biden and DeSantis have met face-to-face since their verbal battle over transporting illegal immigrants to Democratic strongholds in September.
“Tomorrow, President Biden and the First Lady will travel to Fort Myers Florida to reaffirm their commitment to supporting the people of Florida as they recover and rebuild from the devastating storm,” Jean-Pierre said. “While he is there, the President will meet with small business owners and local residents affected by Hurricane Ian and thank the federal, state and local officials who are working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance.”
“Governor DeSantis, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and other state and local officials will also provide the President with an operational briefing on the current response and recovery efforts,” it added.
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Hurricane Ian arrives soon after Biden condemned DeSantis for sending two flights of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in early September.
The president accused DeSantis of “playing politics” and using illegal immigrants as political “props” last month.
“Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they are doing is simply wrong, it is un-American, it is reckless,” Biden said on September 16.
However, DeSantis blasted his critics at the time, noting that the Biden administration had already been transporting immigrants across the country before he took action.
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“So when Biden is blowing these people all over the fruiting plain in the middle of the night, I didn’t hear a peep from those people,” DeSantis said during a rally. “I haven’t heard anything about all the people Biden has told [that migrants] they can just walk in, and they walk out, they are being abused by the cartels. They are drowning in the Rio Grande. You had 50 that died in some shed in Texas. I didn’t hear any outrage over any of that.”
Biden initially seemed hesitant to call DeSantis before Hurricane Ian hit, but ultimately made the call a day before the storm hit.